Intelligence Applied Emerging markets
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As the second largest economy in
Southeast Asia, Thailand is a tempting
market for brand expansion. Although the
country was rocked by political instability
and highly publicised protests in 2014,
consumer confidence has been on the
rise since the end of the military coup.
With purchasing power in Thailand showing the potential to
increase in 2015 in line with economic growth, there will be
opportunities for companies to make an entry into the market.
Tapping into the zeitgeist to align brands with the national mood
is one path that other businesses have successfully trodden.
After some of the worst floods in Thailand in 2011, Coca-Cola set
upon galvanising the population through a feel-good campaign.
Coke wanted to return the country to the ‘Land of Smiles’ and
initiated a highly successful ‘Million Reasons to Believe in
Thailand’ campaign. It was an online phenomenon, not only
boosting national pride but teaching other brands about the
power of tuning into the mood of the people. Tesco Lotus also
released a video showing them helping to get essential food
items to where people needed them most.
The relationship between the brands and consumers in Thailand
is increasingly reciprocal, with people expecting to ‘get something
back’ for their loyalty. Many companies, particularly in the food
and drink category, run promotions and competitions to keep
these ‘reward addicts’ coming back. Ichitan, one of Thailand’s
green tea giants, runs creative out-of-store promotional
campaigns, with prizes up-for-grabs including the iPhone 6,
a Porsche, a free holiday and 1 million baht – the lucky winner
will find the prize written under the cap of the bottle.
The company now has over three million followers on Facebook
so eager customers can keep their eyes out for the next
campaign. Watsons, which owns hundreds of pharmacies across
the country, opted for comedy with a viral TV advert that shows
a man’s transformation into a beautiful women using Watsons’
Challenger brands must capitalise
on post-protest Thailand
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Consumers in Thailand are more open to experimenting with
new products – more so than many of their neighbours in Asia.
Western brands will need to do their homework to compete with
local players. Although Western brands enjoyed a monopoly of
the Thai market 10 or 15 years ago, there has been a major shift
that has seen Asian brands from nearby countries taking a much
greater share. For example, a surge in popularity of Korean TV
shows and pop music has helped to inspire affinity with its Korean
brands in Thailand.
Looking into more detail at different sectors, there is clearly a
major opportunity in the health and beauty sector as it draws
interest from consumers of all ages. Male grooming needs are
expected to increase in the future – there is potential in this area
for facial and body care as well as cosmetics for men, with the
main areas of interest being acne control, whitening and anti-
aging. Interest in technology and new gadgets is high in a country
where people are constantly seeking new information sources.
Thailand is a highly mobile-centric market; up to 80% of people
in Thailand own mobiles and 66% of online consumers ‘screen
stack’ – use multiple devices at the same time. This is one the
highest figures in Asia, behind only Hong Kong and Japan.*
It’s clear that Thailand is ripe for brands looking for expansion in
Southeast Asia. Despite residual uncertainty as to how the political
situation will evolve, the country’s population is maintaining a
positive outlook. With confidence returning and GDP expected to
double, brands must mirror this positivity if they are to capitalise
on the opportunities ahead of their competitors.
*TNS Connected Life study 2014
Challenger brands must capitalise on post-protest Thailand
About the author
Dr Arpapat (Nokki) Boonrod is Managing
Director of TNS Thailand. Nokki has more
than 15 years of social and market research
experience, both in Thailand and across Asia.
For more information about TNS Thailand,
TNS advises clients on specific growth strategies around new
market entry, innovation, brand switching and stakeholder
management, based on long-established expertise and
market-leading solutions. With a presence in over 80
countries, TNS has more conversations with the world’s
consumers than anyone else and understands individual
human behaviours and attitudes across every cultural,
economic and political region of the world.
TNS is part of Kantar, the data investment management
division of WPP and one of the world’s largest insight,
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